Helping Parents Help their Students with Disabilities: Related Services to Support Parents

   Under the IDEA, students with disabilities must be provided the related services they need to benefit from their special education program. In most circumstances those services are provided to the child with a disability, but there are circumstances in which the IDEA requires that services be provided to the parents, and sometimes, others. In particular the IDEA states that counseling and training may be provided to the student’s parents.

 

          Parent counseling and training means assisting the parents in understanding their child’s special needs, providing the parents with information about child development, and helping parents acquire necessary skills that will help them to support the implementation of their child’s IEP or IFSP. Moreover, the IDEA specifically mentions four circumstances when parent counseling and training might be provided in conjunction with providing related services to the child with a disability:

 

(1)   Audiology services can include counseling and guidance of children, parents, and teachers regarding hearing loss;

(2)   Psychological services can include planning and managing a program of psychological counseling for children and parents;

(3)   Speech language pathology services includes counseling and guidance of parents, children, and teachers regarding speech language impairments; and

(4)   Social work services in schools include group and individual counseling with the child and family.

 

Additionally, when a child needs assistive technology services  those services can include training or technical assistance not only for the for a child with a disability, but, if appropriate, that child’s family. Assistive technology devices (AT) are items and pieces of equipment that are used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities. It makes sense, for example, if a child was provided with an augmentative communication device, that both the child and the child’s family may need training in how to use the device. Likewise, assistive technology services can include “Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers or other individuals who provide services to employ, or are otherwise involved in the major life functions of that child.” Again, it makes sense that if the child is using the AT device in school or on a job site that, in addition to the child, the educational professionals or employer receive training in how to use the device.

 

There are some case examples in which hearing officers have ordered school districts to provide services to the student’s parents. In In re: Student with a Disability, 50 IDELR 120 (SEA NY 2008), a New York state review officer ordered the school district to provide a parent training in multisensory strategies so that she could help her son with his reading skills at home. And in Redlands Unified School District, 49 IDELR 294 (SEA CA 2008) an administrative law judge ordered the school district to provide the student’s parents three hours a month of training. In the Redlands case the training was ordered as part of compensatory services to be provided to the student because the district had continued to use an ineffective behavior intervention plan implemented by an untrained aide. As a result, the student’s behavior deteriorated and he was unable to attend school.

 

Finally, there are circumstances in which sign language training for parents of children with communication impairments may be a required related service. The U.S. Department of Education has made it clear that if the IEP team determines that sign language training for a student’s parents is needed for the student to benefit from special education, then that training is a required related service. See Letter to Dagly, 17 IDELR 1107 (OSEP 1991) and Letter to Anonymous, 19 IDELR 586 (OSEP 1992). Of course, there may also be circumstances in which sign language interpreting (as opposed to sign language training) may be required to facilitate communication with parents who are deaf. In that circumstance, the sign language interpreting is being provided as an auxiliary aid or service under Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and/or, it is a procedural safeguard requirement under the IDEA.

 

         

Second Edition of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law Now Available

  Readers, at the end of May I posted that the Second Edition of my book The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law was available for preorder. The book is here and can be ordered now.

 

  Like the previous book, the second edition contains information about obtaining a free appropriate public education, IEPs, discipline, dispute resolution, extended school year, early childhood services, and 504 plans. Additionally, the new second edition has been updated to include the most recent changes in federal law including:

 • the IDEA requirements for services plans for children placed in private schools
 • how to file complaints with State Education Agencies for violations of the IDEA including obtaining compensatory services
 • timelines for resolving disputes under the IDEA and how to use “mediation” and the new “resolution process”
 • the evaluation process and response-to-intervention (RTI)

  The second edition of The Everyday Guide is priced at $24.95. Discounted prices are available for bulk orders. If you are interested you may order it now.

 

Moving On: The IDEA and Summary of Performance for Students Graduating or Aging Out of School

  Generally, the IDEA requires that once a school district determines that a student has a disability, the district must reevaluate (34 CFR 300.305) the student before the school district determines that the student no longer has a disability and is not eligible for IDEA services. That reevaluation must meet all of the requirements set out in 34 CFR 300.304. But, this reevaluation is not required for students with disabilities who are no longer eligible for IDEA services because they have: (1) graduated from secondary school with a regular education diploma or (2) have exceeded the age eligibility requirements, age twenty-one, for receiving a free appropriate public education under State law. For those students, the IDEA requires that the school district provide a summary of the student’s academic achievement and functional performance. This is also referred to as a Summary of Performance or SOP.

 

      The Summary of Performance includes not only a summary of the student’s academic and functional performance, but also includes recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting the student’s postsecondary goals. Thus, the Summary of Performance can be a very useful tool for the student in documenting that the student has a disability and providing information about accommodations the student may need to be successful after high school.

 

     This is true because, unlike the public schools through the elementary and secondary levels, colleges and other post secondary institutions are not usually required to assess an individual to determine if they have a disability and may need accommodations. Under both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, colleges may not discriminate against students with disabilities and may be required to provide academic adjustments and auxiliary aids to support the student. But the student is expected to provide information about the disability and the support the student may need. A well-written summary of performance might provide that information.

 

   This summary might also provide documentation that would help the adult student receive services from vocational rehabilitation services (VR) and other state and local disability service providers. To be sure, information contained in the Summary of Performance that a student has a disability does not automatically mean that the student is eligible for services from state VR agencies. State vocational rehabilitation agencies are required to assess individuals seeking vocational rehabilitation services in order to determine their eligibility for rehabilitation services. The Summary of Performance might be helpful in that process.

 

   While the IDEA does not provide much detail on the content of the Summary of Performance, a sample Summary of Performance form has been developed with input from a variety of entities and individuals. Sometimes, based on this template, some State Education Agencies, including Colorado, have developed their own Summary of Performance forms. If used thoughtfully, these sample forms could provide very detailed and helpful information regarding the supports the student will need to be successful after high school As always, you should check with your own State Education Agency or school district to see if they have developed a model form.

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The Second Edition of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law available for preorder

Readers as you may be aware, this blog features links for those interested in purchasing my book The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law. I have not, however, directly promoted the book in my posts. I’m going to break with that tradition because I want you to know that the first edition of the book has sold out, but that the second edition of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law will arrive by the end of June, but can be preordered now. Like the previous book, the second edition contains information about obtaining a free appropriate public education, IEPs, discipline, dispute resolution, extended school year, early childhood services, and 504 plans. Additionally, the new second edition has been updated to include the most recent changes in federal law including:

• the IDEA requirements for services plans for children placed in private schools
• how to file complaints with State Education Agencies for violations of the IDEA including obtaining compensatory services
• timelines for resolving disputes under the IDEA and how to use “mediation” and the new “resolution process”
• the evaluation process and response-to-intervention (RTI)

Again, if you are interested you can preorder the second edition of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law now.

That’s it for the commercial. My next post will again feature practical comments and information on special education, early intervention, and disability law.

Working it: Vocational Rehabilitation Services for People with Disabilities

  In my previous post I briefly discussed vocational rehabilitation services for post secondary students with disabilities. In this post I’ll address what rehabilitation services are, who is eligible for them, and how to get them.  

 People with disabilities, advocates, and family members are generally familiar with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which prohibits discrimination against qualified persons with disabilities by programs that receive federal financial assistance. But there is another important section of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 USC 720, that establishes a system to help individuals with disabilities obtain employment. This legislation provides federal grants to help states provide vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to eligible individuals with disabilities. Each state and United States territory has a vocational rehabilitation agency responsible for providing vocational rehabilitation services to assist eligible individuals prepare for and engage in gainful and competitive employment. 

Who is eligible for VR services?

   To be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services an individual must:

(1)  have a physical or mental impairment that is a barrier to employment;

(2)  need VR services to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment; and

(3)  be able to benefit from those VR services. 

    In some cases, not every individual who is eligible will be able to receive VR services. The legislation requires vocational rehabilitation agencies, when resources are limited, to give priority to serving individuals with the most significant disabilities. You should contact your state vocational rehabilitation agency for information regarding how services are prioritized in your state or territory. 

 What are vocational rehabilitation services?  

 Vocational rehabilitation agencies can offer a wide array of services to assist individuals with disabilities obtain, retain, or regain employment. Services are determined by the vocational needs of the individual and are provided to assist the individual to achieve an employment outcome. Examples of these services include:  

         ● an assessment to determine eligibility for VR services and VR needs; 

         ● vocational counseling, guidance, and referral services;

         ● vocational training including on-the-job and other training and including books,       tools and other materials;

         ● maintenance: monetary support for costs like food, shelter, and clothing that are more than normal and needed due to the individual’s participation in VR services; 

         ● transportation that is connected to rendering other VR services;   

         ● vocational rehabilitation services to family members if the services are necessary to enable the individual to achieve an employment outcome;

         ● interpreter services, including sign language or oral interpreting services to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and tactile interpreting services for individuals who are deaf-blind;

        ● reader services, rehabilitation teaching services, and orientation and mobility services for individuals who are blind;

       ● job related services including job search and placement assistance, job retention services, and follow-up and follow-along services;

       ● supported employment services;

       ● personal assistance services to assist with daily living activities;

       ● transition services to assist students with disabilities to transition from school to work; and

       ● rehabilitation technology: rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology devices and services.  

 While extensive, this list of services is not exhaustive. Remember that in order to receive any or all of these services, the need for the service must be linked to a vocational outcome. 

How does a person with a disability receive VR services? 

  Individuals apply for services through VR offices within their state vocational rehabilitation agency. A VR counselor will be assigned to assess and determine eligibility. Eligibility must be determined within 60 days, unless there are exceptional and unforeseen circumstances or more time is needed to adequately assess the individual’s abilities, capabilities and capacity to perform in work situations.   

 If eligible, the individual will meet with their VR counselor to develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). It may be necessary to do additional assessments to determine an appropriate employment outcome for the individual and the services needed to meet that goal. The IPE will document the employment outcome and the services, responsibilities, and timelines to achieve that outcome. The IPE will document both the responsibilities of the VR agency and the responsibilities of the individual with a disability.  

What if the individual disagrees with the counselor regarding the IPE or encounters other problems in obtaining VR services?   

Individuals have the right to appeal if they disagree with determinations made by their VR agency. The appeal procedures include the right to mediation and the right to an impartial due process hearing.  

  Mediation is a process that uses a person (mediator) who is trained in effective mediation techniques to help the individual and the VR agency resolve the disagreement. The mediator does not impose a decision on the individual or the agency, but helps the two sides come to a mutual agreement on a resolution. Mediation is voluntary and the mediator must be impartial.  

  On the other hand, an impartial hearing is a process that uses a hearing officer to decide the dispute. At the hearing, the hearing officer will listen to evidence from both sides and make a decision. The agency and the individual must follow the hearing officer’s decision unless they appeal.  

  Each state and territory has a Client Assistance Program (CAP) that is available to assist individuals with disabilities in navigating the vocational rehabilitation process and providing assistance in the appeal process. Individuals should contact the Client Assistance Program within their state or territory for that assistance.  

 

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